Fostering Communities

Fostering Communities is a national programme of improvement and support led by The Fostering Network in Wales and funded by the Welsh Government from 2020-2023. Embedded within Fostering Communities is a co-production approach, which means we will work in equal partnership with foster carers, children and young people in care and fostering services to plan and deliver the programme. Working together as co-creators and sharing power will enable us to build a strong and resilient fostering community with the aim of improving wellbeing for all. Fostering Communities recognises that everyone in the fostering sector has a vital contribution to make in order to improve the quality of life for children and young people in care and their foster families.

 

What is Fostering Communities?

Fostering Communities is our national programme of improvement and support, placing foster carers at the centre of the team around the child. Through our bespoke programme of work, we will improve the experience of children looked after in Wales, support foster carers to provide permanent, stable and aspiring homes, and ensure that children and young people in care are able to make a positive and valued contribution to their own wellbeing.

Fostering Communities will:
  • increase permanence and stability for children looked after
  • empower children and young people to be able to contribute to their own wellbeing
  • improve competence, confidence and motivation of the fostering workforce
  • empower the workforce to improve well-being outcomes for children
  • improve foster carer retention, to ensure a skilled, competent and committed foster carer workforce can continue to have the greatest positive influence on the life of a child who is fostered
  • focus on prevention and early intervention.
     
The Fostering Communities programme comprises of six workstreams, matching the needs that the fostering community have told The Fostering Network that they require greater support with:
Fosterline Wales 

A high-quality information and advice service, offering phone support, toolkits, webinars and factsheets and briefing papers

Professional Development 

Professional Development for the fostering workforce through learning and development events and accompanying resources. The webinars and online training will cover a range of fostering topics, focusing on a blended learning approach, which includes a Personal Reflective Journal for foster carers and electronic recourses. 

Our professional development resources include: 

  • A variety of factsheets and briefing papers on a range of fostering topics 
  • Ideas and practical advice for digital engagement with young people: A guide for services and organisations (English and Welsh)
  • Developing the Personal Reflective Journal for foster carers: a co-production approach (English
Independent Advice and Mediation Service

Piloting in Swansea LA and Neath Port Talbot LA, this service will empower foster carers and staff to resolve conflict, complaints or allegations and support good practice to reduce and prevent incidents that can risk placement breakdown and removal of approval.

For more information please email Jasmin Thorn - Advice and Mediation worker. 

Thrive 

Thrive is widely known and recognised as our well-established magazine, written by young people in care for young people in care. The magazine provides an important form of support for young people, as well as giving young people the opportunity to have their voices heard, whilst offering advice and support to their peers. We currently develop two Thrive magazines a year which cover a range of topics that the young people tell us are important to them. 

As part of this project we also run a Wales Young People's Care Forum, who support the development of the magazine and other pieces of work. Our forum ensure that the work here in Wales is informed by what young people tell us about their experiences of care and what matters to them. The group meet virtually, six times a year and will also be consulted with between meetings via email and text. As a thank you for their involvement, we provide vouchers to each forum member. 

We are always welcoming more care-experienced young people (aged 16 - 23) to join the forum, so if you are interested or know someone who would be, please email charlotte.wooders@fostering.net to find out more information. 

Walking Tall

Our programme of creative arts-based activities will provide opportunities for children (aged 9 - 10) in foster care to make their voices heard, whilst building relationships with their foster carers and having fun!

Find out more about the project in our year 1 report and year 2 report.

Co-production / Shared Power

Our co-production approach recognises that everyone in the fostering sector has a vital contribution to make. Working in equal partnership as co-creators with foster carers, children and young people in care and fostering services, we will improve the quality of life for our fostering community here in Wales.

Our co-production resources for year 2 of the programme include:

Men Who Foster: A guide to setting up support groups for male foster carers
 
This guide is an easy-to-use resource to help fostering services establish support groups for male foster carers, with a particular focus on newly approved male carers. 
 
The guide has been written by two experienced male carers and co-produced with a male carer working group. The contents are intended as a starting point and are extremely flexible. There are ideas for an initial series of three meetings, with the hope that the men attending those groups will developing friendships, see benefits of meeting, and chose to keep the group going after these starter sessions. The first session is a 'getting to know you session', and a range of ideas are given for sessions two and three. However, it is anticipated that each group will help shape the format and content of their group to best suit their needs. 
 
Read the guide here in English and Welsh. Read and use the support session PowerPoint here in English and Welsh.
 
 
Putting co-production into practice with young people: pathway planning 
 
This guide focuses on pathway planning and how independent reviewing officers, social workers, personal advisors and foster carers can pilot co-production as part of the pathway planning process, before rolling it out across other area's of their work and practice. Included in the guide is also a simple traffic light assessment tool to enable practitioners and young people to assess how well they are co-producing together. 
 
Read the guide in English and Welsh. Download and use the traffic light assessment tool in English and Welsh
 
Our co-production resources for year 1 of the programme include:
 
Putting co-production into practice: A young person's self assessment tool for children looked after reviews
 
This guide aims to support managers and social care practitioners in the further implementation of the 2014 Act, in putting co-production at the heart of practice, alongside the young people who are looked after. It focuses on co-production within the children looked after reviews and describes what co-production might look like in this context and provides a simple traffic light assessment tool to enable practitioners and young people to assess how well they are co-producing together.
 
Read the guide in English and Welsh. Download and use the traffic light assessment tool in English and Welsh
 
Introducing co-production at the evaluation stage of a project cycle
 
This paper is a contribution to the ongoing discussion on what co-production means from our perspective. We have outlined top tips and practical points to keep in mind as fostering services evaluate their own co-production journey as they develop their learning and development portfolio for foster carers and improve practice and care for the children they look after. 
 
Co-production - Reflecting on professional learning and development for foster carers 
 
This paper details case studies which demonstrate the experiences of The Fostering Network in Wales in engaging co-production in its development for learning and development opportunities for fostering services and foster carers. The next step is to ask what might these individual case studies, each delivered in their own unique context, offer in terms of learning that might be applied elsewhere within the Fostering Communities programme, The Fostering Network or fostering services across Wales? 

 

For more information about Fostering Communities please email the programme team below or you can call the Wales office on 02920 440940.

 

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